Palestinians protest Trump move, more unrest feared

Cropped Photo: Godot13 / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

JERUSALEM (AP) Thousands of Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, demonstrators in the Gaza Strip burned U.S. flags and pictures of President Donald Trump, and a top Palestinian official said Vice President Mike Pence would not be welcome in the West Bank, in a show of rage Thursday over the American decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Israeli forces were bracing for the possibility of even stronger violence on Friday, when tens of thousands of Palestinians attend weekly prayers at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque, the city's most sacred Islamic site. In Gaza, the supreme leader of the Hamas militant group called on Palestinians to launch a new uprising against Israel.

The Palestinians were blindsided by Trump's move to depart from decades of U.S. policy on Jerusalem and upend longstanding international assurances that the fate of the city would be determined in negotiations.

The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as their capital. Israel claims the entire city, including east Jerusalem, home to sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, as its undivided capital. The opposing claims lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have often spilled over into deadly violence.

The Palestinians declared three "days of rage," shuttering schools and businesses, and staging angry demonstrations at Damascus Gate, one of the entrances to Jerusalem's Old City, and cities across the West Bank and Gaza.